ISSN (O) : 2584-1378


AUTHOR’S NAME : Shubhankar Singh
INSTITUTION - MIT School of law



Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become a significant focus for businesses globally, reflecting a shift towards greater corporate accountability and ethical practices. CSR is the concept that companies should not only focus on profitability but also consider the social and environmental impacts of their operations. In this blog, we will critically analyze CSR, examining its evolution, the legal framework, key case laws, and its implications for businesses and society.


The idea of CSR dates back to the early 20th century when businesses started recognizing their role beyond profit-making. The concept gained momentum in the 1950s with the publication of Howard Bowen’s book, “Social Responsibilities of the Businessman,” which is often regarded as the seminal work in the field of CSR. Over the decades, CSR has evolved from voluntary philanthropic activities to strategic initiatives integrated into core business practices.


India is one of the few countries where CSR has been mandated by law. The Companies Act, 2013, particularly Section 135, lays down the legal framework for CSR in India. Key provisions include:

Applicability: Companies with a net worth of INR 500 crore or more, a turnover of INR 1000 crore or more, or a net profit of INR 5 crore or more during any financial year are required to comply with CSR norms.

CSR Committee: Companies meeting the criteria must constitute a CSR committee to oversee the CSR activities.

CSR Policy: The CSR committee must formulate and recommend a CSR policy to the Board, indicating the activities to be undertaken.

CSR Expenditure: Companies are required to spend at least 2% of their average net profits of the preceding three years on CSR activities.


CSR aims to achieve a balance between economic, environmental, and social imperatives. It serves multiple objectives, including:

  • Sustainable Development: CSR initiatives promote sustainable development by addressing environmental concerns and encouraging resource conservation.
  • Corporate Reputation: CSR enhances a company’s reputation, fostering trust and loyalty among consumers, employees, and stakeholders.
  • Risk Management: By proactively addressing social and environmental issues, companies can mitigate risks and avoid potential conflicts with communities and regulators.
  • Compliance and Ethical Standards: CSR ensures that companies adhere to ethical standards and comply with legal and regulatory requirements.



  • Enhanced Brand Image and Reputation:

Companies that engage in CSR activities often enjoy a positive image and reputation. Consumers are increasingly conscious of the ethical practices of the brands they support. For example, companies like TATA Group in India have gained significant goodwill due to their longstanding commitment to CSR activities, including healthcare, education, and rural development initiatives.

  • Employee Engagement and Retention:

CSR initiatives can boost employee morale and engagement. When employees see their company contributing to societal well-being, it can enhance their sense of pride and loyalty. Companies like Google and Microsoft have extensive CSR programs that not only benefit communities but also improve employee satisfaction and retention.

  • Access to Capital:

Investors are increasingly considering CSR factors in their investment decisions. Companies with strong CSR credentials are often viewed as more sustainable and less risky investments. The rise of socially responsible investing (SRI) and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria reflects this trend.


  • Superficial Engagement:

One of the main criticisms of CSR is that some companies engage in CSR superficially, using it as a marketing tool rather than a genuine effort to address social and environmental issues. This phenomenon, known as “greenwashing,” undermines the credibility of CSR. For instance, certain multinational corporations have been accused of promoting minor philanthropic activities while continuing harmful environmental practices.

  • Lack of Standardization:

The lack of standardized guidelines and metrics for measuring the impact of CSR activities poses a challenge. Companies often have different criteria for what constitutes CSR, making it difficult to compare and evaluate their initiatives effectively.

  • Balancing Profit and Purpose:

Companies sometimes struggle to balance profit motives with social responsibilities. There is often a tension between the short-term financial goals of shareholders and the long-term benefits of CSR. This conflict can lead to inconsistent CSR practices.


Effective implementation and monitoring of CSR activities are critical. However, many companies face challenges in ensuring that their CSR initiatives are genuinely impactful and align with their stated objectives. Proper monitoring mechanisms are essential to assess the outcomes and effectiveness of CSR projects.


  1. Sterlite Industries Case (2004)

Sterlite Industries, a subsidiary of Vedanta Resources, faced significant backlash due to its environmental practices. The company was accused of causing substantial environmental damage in Tamil Nadu, leading to health issues among local communities. The National Green Tribunal (NGT) ordered the closure of the Sterlite plant in 2018, citing violations of environmental norms. This case highlighted the importance of genuine CSR practices and the repercussions of neglecting environmental responsibilities.

  1. Tata Power Case (2010)

Tata Power was involved in a case where the Delhi High Court upheld the company’s CSR initiatives, which included providing electricity to underserved communities. The court recognized the positive impact of Tata Power’s CSR activities on society and encouraged other companies to adopt similar practices. This case underscored the legal validation and societal benefits of effective CSR programs.

  1. Nestlé India Case (2015)

Nestlé India faced a significant challenge when its popular product, Maggi noodles, was banned due to alleged safety concerns. The controversy highlighted the importance of corporate accountability and transparent practices. Although not a direct CSR case, it underscored the need for companies to maintain high ethical standards, including ensuring product safety, which is a critical aspect of social responsibility.


  • United States

In the United States, CSR is largely driven by voluntary guidelines and market forces. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requires companies to disclose material information, which can include CSR-related issues. Companies like Ben & Jerry’s and Patagonia are renowned for their strong CSR commitments, focusing on environmental sustainability and social justice.

  • European Union

The European Union has taken a more regulatory approach to CSR. The EU Non-Financial Reporting Directive requires large companies to disclose information on environmental, social, and employee matters, respect for human rights, and anti-corruption measures. This directive aims to increase transparency and encourage companies to adopt sustainable practices.

  • Japan

In Japan, CSR is deeply rooted in the corporate culture, with a strong emphasis on community welfare and employee well-being. Japanese companies like Toyota and Sony have extensive CSR programs that integrate social and environmental considerations into their business strategies.



  • Integration with Core Business Strategy:

CSR will increasingly be integrated into core business strategies rather than being treated as a peripheral activity. Companies will align their CSR initiatives with their business goals to create shared value for both the company and society.

  • Focus on Sustainability:

Environmental sustainability will remain a central focus of CSR. Companies will invest in green technologies, reduce carbon footprints, and promote sustainable practices throughout their supply chains.

  • Digital Transformation:

The digital revolution will play a significant role in the future of CSR. Companies will leverage digital technologies to enhance transparency, track CSR impacts, and engage with stakeholders more effectively.

  • Stakeholder Engagement:

Engaging with a broader range of stakeholders, including employees, customers, suppliers, and local communities, will become increasingly important. Companies will adopt a more inclusive approach to CSR, ensuring that the voices of all stakeholders are heard and considered.

  • Regulatory Developments:

Governments and regulatory bodies worldwide will continue to develop and enforce CSR-related regulations. Companies will need to stay abreast of these changes and ensure compliance with evolving standards.


Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has evolved into a critical component of modern business practices. While it offers numerous benefits, including enhanced reputation, employee engagement, and risk management, it also faces significant challenges such as superficial engagement, lack of standardization, and implementation issues. Through key case laws and global perspectives, we see the importance of genuine and effective CSR practices. The future of CSR lies in its integration with core business strategies, focus on sustainability, digital transformation, stakeholder engagement, and compliance with regulatory developments. Ultimately, CSR represents a commitment to ethical business practices and sustainable development, reflecting a broader vision of corporate responsibility that goes beyond profitability to encompass social and environmental stewardship. As businesses navigate the complexities of CSR, they must strive to create meaningful impacts that benefit society and the environment, ensuring a sustainable future for all.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

error: Content is protected !!
Scroll to Top